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Martin Johann Schmidt

(1718 Grafenwörth near Krems – 1801 Stein)

Educating Satyr Children; The Marriage of Bacchus and Abundantia. Two etchings. Each approx. 13.3 x 8.7 cm. 1771. Garzarolli-Thurnlackh 20, 21; Feucht­müller 21, 22.

Martin Johann Schmidt’s printed oeuvre, which comprises thirty etchings, provides a vivid illustration of the variety of themes addressed by this versatile and creative artist. In addition to self-portraits from his early period, together with character heads and depictions of Orientals in the style of Rembrandt, it contains reproductive prints after his own altar pieces as well as mythological themes dating to the 1770s. Schmidt made his etchings not just out of a purely artistic interest in the subject matter, but also for commercial reasons, since they made his compositions accessible to a larger audience. He derived the inspiration for this project from various sources.

Both the present mythological scenes are treated in a light, brisk and painterly manner, their Baroque-style artistic language showing that the artist must have been familiar with the works of Italian painter-etchers. The preliminary study for the Marriage of Bacchus and Abundantia has survived and is now in the Residenzgalerie in Salzburg. A comparison between the swiftly and cursorily delineated compositional sketch and the final etching makes it clear that Schmidt worked in a very spon­taneous and impulsive manner, numerous details only being formulated when he was engaged in the etching process. Both etchings were clearly designed as companion pieces and were often printed on one sheet. In this particular case the etchings do not go back to paintings already done by the artist, serving rather as the starting point for versions painted at a later date. The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne was done in oils in 1776 (Feuchtmüller WV 537), whereas the painted version of Educating Satyr Children only arose in 1787, almost a decade later (Feuchtmüller WV 881).

Very fine, contrasting impressions with broad margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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